Self-Published Novelist Lands University of Chicago Press Book Deal

Jason Boog (Guatemala 2000-02) on the Internet site GalleyCat published this short piece on April 5, 2012 giving all of us self-published writers inspriation.

In May, the University of Chicago Press will publish A Naked Singularity, a 700-page debut novel that Sergio De La Pava self-published in 2008 through Xlibris.

The story behind the book deal may inspire more literary authors to self-publish. In an email, Chicago Press promotions director Levi Stahl recounted how he discovered the self-published book:

Late in 2010 I read a review by Scott Bryan Wilson in the Quarterly Conversation that said the novel was the best he’d read all year, maybe the best of the decade. And that praise, I discovered, had led to other critics picking it up-and they all agreed: it was brilliant, and it was a shame that no publisher had signed it. I got a copy, was blown away, and started rattling cages here at Chicago to convince people we should publish the book and give it a shot at reaching a wide audience. And in the midst of all the usual gloom and doom stories about the changing world of publishing, this one looks to be a story of success:, of a great book finding an audience-and then finding a publisher-through the conversations and opportunities that the Web has made possible. Without cheap digital publishing technology, the book would never have existed; without the Web, I would never have heard about it.


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  • The e-world and Print-On-Demand are now a parallel universe. The commercial publishing industry is beginning to realize that is may also serve as a publishing minor league where writers perfect their skills.

  • Yes, Lorenzo, but it’s a “parallel universe” in turmoil. Yesterday’s DC Post reported that the Justice Department is suing five major publishers for price-fixing, allegedly making e-book buyers pay many millions more for their purchases. (Three publishers already agreed to settle.)

    As yesterday’s NYTimes viewed it, “The impact: lower prices for e-books, as Amazon is freed to charge whatever price it wants . . . and, relatedly, an expected enhanced market position for”

    My publisher charges $9.99 for my e-novel, “Roman Proud,” while Amazon charges merely $3.43. Three cheers for Jason Boog that the Univ. of Chicago Press picked up his novel. If his new publisher puts out a digital version, let’s see what it will charge vs. what Amazon will charge.

    In either case, Boog’s book will find even more readers – at the presumably higher cost charged by his new big-name publisher as well as at a lower cost probably charged by Amazon. But what may eventually happen to the Univ. of Chicago Press in that kind of market? Five big publishers allegedly banded together to protect themselves by fixing prices. That’s not working. What do they try now?

    Maybe there’s a hint of the future at DC’s Politics and Prose. P&P is among the most successful indie bookstores in the U.S. It features 450 author events a year and, equally important, it carries 35,000 titles with a staff that knows its stuff. On the other hand, P&P recently installed in its store “Opus,” a new machine that can print on demand self-published manuscripts and out-of-print books. Maybe big publishers – and small – will someday figure out some sort of analogous solution in their part of the book world.

  • I don’t pay much mind to market mumbo jumbo. The only ones who do are usually defending the Big Six publishers; Random House, Hachette, Macmillan, Penguin, Harpercollins and Simon & Schuster. Of these the only American corporation is Simon & Schuster. The others are multi-nationals based in Germany, France and England. These are also the usually the same people who use the “gate keeper” theory- that we will be all struck dumb and blind if we read books that aren’t censored by the rich and powerful. What a bunch of huey.

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